International Series Sweden: Digitalisation sparks a boom in the deepest forest

Author Stéphane Itasse

Frequently covered in snow and ice, with extensive forests and very few people: Despite these environmental conditions North Sweden is nearing aneconomic boom. One of the triggers for this isthe extremely cheapgreen electricity, from which the IT-industry wishes to benefit.

Data centre providers find the site conditions good in the middle of the forests in North Sweden and want to expand further.
Data centre providers find the site conditions good in the middle of the forests in North Sweden and want to expand further.
(Bild: Fortlax)

Europe’s lowest electricity prices as well as a stable and efficient energy network have paved the way for the young industry in the direction of North Sweden, reports the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce (AHK Sweden). Since Facebook opened its first data centre in 2013 not far from Luleå, ten more data centres have already been set up in the region.

Data centresare active for many industries

Not only Internet companies, but also established industrial companies need data and computing capacity. Thehigh security data centre Fortlax based in Piteå acquired a major customer with the BMW Group in March 2016, informs the Chamber of Commerce. BMW will use Fortlax not only as an external data storage, but also as a super computer for complex data processing, simulations and data analyses.

The growth prospects seem good because according to AHK the rising digitalisation requires large storage capacities at low energy costs with high security. “Here, the north region of Sweden provides 100-percentgreenelectricityfromhydropowerand wind energy”, explains Anne Graf, Chief Commercial Officer in The Node Pole.

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Digitalisation is becoming the growth engine

This name stands for the region to the extreme north of Sweden as well as for a network of around 50 technology and constructions companies such as the four municipalities Luleå, Piteå, Boden and Älvsbyn. Together, they are aiming to attract high-tech investments such as Facebook in the region. “It is simply more efficient to transfer data instead of electricity “, said Graf on the Finance and Investment Forum London 2016.

Many more companies profit from such investments during the construction phase and also after commissioning, especially the construction industry as well as transport and logistics companies, technical suppliers, security and consulting companies. “Access to well-educated personnel is crucial here“, says Conny Hökfors, Business Area Director of the service provider LTU Business AB. It belongs to the Luleå University of Technology that offers its services in strategic business and competency development since many years and thus promotes the cooperation between economy and research.